Artist: Josh Vasquez
Exhibition: Vida / Morte
Media: Mixed-Media, Painting
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Josh Vasquez is a Los Angeles native and spent most of his life in the Downtown area. From a young age he loved to paint and it seems like his love for the arts has gone unchanged since he is currently an undergraduate at CSULB pursuing his dreams. Vasquez is enrolled in the School Art and studying in Painting and Drawing. When asked numerous times by the visiting ART-110 class what his hobbies were, he replied each time with “I love to paint”. The love for it was apparent in his exhibition, Vida/Morte, where Josh Vasquez illustrated life and death in the same pieces while maintaining the separate identities.
Vasquez described his work as abstract. I’m no art aficionado so I will agree that it is abstract. His pieces were in black and white, such is life and death in the eyes of the artist. He painted on stretched plastic (trash bag) and used spray paints, paint, and permanent markers in a majority of his pieces. His piece, Rosado, features a what may seem like a spiral featuring thick lines from spray paint and thinning inward. The lines throughout his works are jagged and mostly thin. I was later told by the artist that what I thought was a spiral was actually a rose. The rose is a recurring motif in his works as are the skulls.
Josh Vasquez’s work in this gallery is about Life and Death. He purposely uses black and white in his work to denote the differences between the two because the purpose of the gallery is to illustrate the two as being separate ideas. But a harmony is created when they’re placed in the same pieces with flowers (life) and skulls (death). I asked if anything provoked him to create this, perhaps a death in the family or maybe a newborn? But Josh claimed that nothing provoked the art, it was just an idea he had. A classmate had noted some aggression in his piece, Rosado, and asked about his state of mind when he painted it. To that Josh replied that frustration didn’t drive the piece. In fact, he practices meditation so he paints in a meditative space.
His art was beautiful and Rosado was especially captivating. It was the first time I walked into the gallery and Rosado pulled me in. What captures me upon first viewing the piece was what I believed to be the spiral. I received the chaotic appearance of the spiral as being the frightening appearance of death. The looming shadow that overtakes all without notice. The thick lines up top so full of life wore thinner and thinner as the eyes ventured downward. And at the bottom of these lines was the cloud. I later learned that the chaotic cloud is a rose. So what I perceived as death was redefined as being the symbol of life. Thus reinforcing the meaning behind Vida/Morte, that life and death can be within the piece yet maintain separate identities. This resonated within me because often times life can be going terribly. When life seems to be falling right down to rock bottom, I often make the same mistake I made viewing Rosado. I mistake the chaotic, horrifying cloud that I think is overbearing my life for what should actually be the rose in my life. I don’t always see that life is a blessing and a miracle in itself.